I arrived in Manitouwadge in the dark. How dark was it? Well, it was not quite darkest Canada.
After all, it’s a community that’s been around for sixty years. Carved out of the bush. And the rock. It has actual houses, with walls and all, and some of them are not empty. They have real people in them. And the town has streetlights, with real electricity and everything.
Being so far off the beaten path, it does have some challenges. No Tim Hortons. It’s a place where addicts to Timmy’s products come to dry out.
It was built by mining companies as a model town, and it does resemble one . . . constructed with Lego blocks. It has really nice residents. Some of them venture out to the real world once in a blue moon, and come back with stories of shopping malls, with news that Harper is Prime Minister now, and tales about a new invention called the Internet.
Just kidding. Did I mention the people have a great sense of humour?
John and I caught up on each other’s news. We’re both history nuts, so we’re a good fit.
In the middle of the night I woke up to screaming. It was just the wind. Howling around the corners of the house.
At daybreak the wind still howled. It was Friday. And surprise, surprise . . . it was still snowing.
Frantic radio announcers reported the appalling blizzard which had struck all of Northwestern Ontario. Highways closed. Schools closed. Businesses closed. Fender benders. Vehicles ditched. Winds gusting to 60 km/hour. Snow depths up to 30 centimetres.
The drift in John’s driveway was thigh deep. We walked to get anywhere, and we leaned on the wind for support.
Saturday morning, sunshine. No wind. No snowfall. Shovels busy all across town. Machines with huge rubber tires scooping out driveways.
Sunday morning. Almost normal. Piles of snow heaped everywhere.
Springtime. But not a single blade of grass made any effort to raise its head above the snowscape.
I figured to follow my own tire tracks back to Hwy. 17. No such luck.
The highway was bare.
This was not normal.